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How to Start a Financial Planning Business


Starting a financial planning business is something you might consider if you have a desire to help individuals or organizations make the most of their money. Financial planners and advisors can offer a broad range of advice or narrow down to focus on a specific niche. Working independently of a larger firm puts you in control of your growth and success. When it comes to how to start a financial planning business, it’s helpful to have a blueprint to follow.

SmartAsset’s Advisor Marketing Platform offers financial advisors services like client lead generation, automated marketing and more. Learn about SmartAsset AMP today.

Benefits of Starting a Financial Planning Business

Financial planners can work in different settings and for many advisors, it makes sense to join an established firm. However, there are some advantages to starting your own financial planning business.

Running a business of your own allows you freedom and flexibility when deciding whom to serve. You may take a broad approach and offer financial planning services to a wide variety of clients or niche down and establish a boutique firm to meet the needs of a smaller audience.

Owning your own financial planning firm also puts you in control of your working hours, as you can decide what to spend time on each day and how you’ll communicate with clients. If you need to work as a part-time advisor, for example, because you’re balancing work with raising a family then you can do that when you own the business.

Those considerations aside, working as a financial planner or advisor allows you to positively impact your client’s lives. If you’re genuinely motivated by a desire to help others and you’re passionate about finance, then a career in financial planning might be an obvious choice. And the more successful you are in helping your clients to work toward their goals, the more profitable your business is likely to be.

How to Start a Financial Planning Business

how to start a financial planning business

Starting a financial planning business is a multi-step process that requires patience, as it may take some time to see your efforts being to pay off. With that in mind, here are some of the most important tasks you’ll need to tackle to get your business up and running.

  • Decide whom you’re going to help: The first thing you’ll want to do when starting your business is to clarify your target audience. Specifically, you need to understand who your ideal clients are and what needs they have. For example, do you want to work with dual-income no-kids couples? High net worth retirees? Members of the LGBT community? Answering this question is important before moving on to the next steps.
  • Choose a financial planning style: Once you know who you want to work with, consider how you’ll help them. For instance, you might choose to focus on income planning, wealth preservation or legacy planning. Or you may choose a comprehensive approach that covers a variety of different needs.
  • Set your services and pricing: It’s important to clarify the range of services that you plan to offer to your clients and how you expect to be paid for them. While some financial advisors choose a fee-based approach, others prefer to go fee-only and charge just for the advice they offer. Note that a typical financial advisor fee is usually around 1% of assets under management.
  • Estimate your startup budget: Starting any business requires some capital and it’s important to have a clear idea of how much you’ll need and where those funds will come from. If you’re starting a smaller financial planning firm, then you may choose to bootstrap your initial costs or apply for a loan. If you’re aiming to start a larger business, you might seek out funding from angel investors instead.
  • Establish the business on paper:  There are certain things you’ll need to do to make your business official, which includes getting the necessary licenses and registering with the appropriate agencies. State registration, for instance, typically requires you to have passed a Series 66 or Series 7 exam or hold a professional certification.
  • Develop a marketing plan: A strong marketing plan can help you begin attracting your first financial planning clients. When devising your marketing plan, consider where your ideal clients are most likely to spend time searching for financial advice. For example, your digital marketing plan might include building an audience on social media or through a blog. You can also use an online lead generation service to help you connect with your first clients when your business is brand-new. Are you looking to expand the marketing of your financial advisor practice? Try SmartAsset AMP, our holistic client prospecting and marketing automation platform.
  • Grow your network: Networking is important for growing your business and building your reputation as a financial advisor. That includes networking professionally with other advisors and participating in your local community. Investing some time in branching out your network could also help you connect with a mentor who may be willing to guide you through the early stages of starting your business.
  • Have a plan to scale: Once you’ve gotten your bearings and are starting to get your first clients, it’s important to think about what comes next. For instance, how many new clients do you want to bring in each year? What will you do to retain the clients that you have? What are your revenue targets? Thinking about how you’ll scale and what kind of growth is realistic from day one of starting your financial planning business can influence how you go about shaping your future plans.

Do Financial Planners Need a Business Plan?

A financial advisor business plan can be an invaluable tool for setting and reaching your goals. If you’re starting a new financial planning business, then creating a written plan is something you likely shouldn’t skip out on.

Having a business plan in place can help you to:

  • Define your mission and vision for the business.
  • Set realistic goals and objectives, both short-term and long-term.
  • Understand who your competitors are and where you’re positioned in the marketplace.
  • Define your target customers and what services you plan to offer to them.
  • Create projections for your business’s growth and financial outcomes.

Writing a business plan as a financial planner may take a little time, but it can be time well spent if leaves you with an actionable blueprint to follow. Once you’ve created your plan, it’s important to review it regularly to see what’s working for your business and where you may need to adjust.

Your plan for acquiring new clients is vitally important to your overall business plan. Once you know how you’ll attack your niche or potential client group, it’s then important to understand whether you have enough time to execute on that plan. Some advisors just don’t want to perform marketing activities, regardless of their available time.

Instead, consider getting help with your marketing efforts and more. SmartAsset’s Advisor Marketing Platform (AMP) offers financial advisors services like client lead generation, automated marketing and more. Learn about SmartAsset AMP today.

Bottom Line

how to start a financial planning business

A career in financial planning might be right for you if you find helping others manage their money rewarding. Knowing how to start a financial planning business from scratch can make it easier to build a foundation for future success. It’s important to make sure you understand your goals and how each step can help you succeed as you move forward in building that business.

Tips for Growing Your Financial Planning Business

  • Every business plan needs a plan for establishing new client leads but it could be as simple as finding the right solution to do just that for your firm. SmartAsset AMP (Advisor Marketing Platform) is a holistic marketing service financial advisors can use for client lead generation and automated marketing. Sign up for a free demo to explore how SmartAsset AMP can help you expand your practice’s marketing operation. Get started today.
  • Embrace digital marketing strategies. In an increasingly digital age, there’s no room to shy away from new technologies or digital marketing challenges. By broadening your scope to include new digital innovations, you may be able to similarly broaden your client base.

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